It should be a given that anybody who wants to adopt a puppy has prepared the basics to make that little guy feel comfortable and welcome. The basics include food and water bowls, collar (harness, I recommend harnesses for small dogs), leashes, toys, bed. You certainly want to have some food ready also but I highly recommend sticking – at least a few weeks – with the food the puppy is used to. A sudden change might trigger diarrhea. Ask the shelter, breeder, pet shop what food the puppy is currently on and get the same brand.
Because puppies are not house-trained yet and might eliminate all over the place it is not a good idea to have the new arrival sleep in your bed. Start crate training immediately and be aware of, that you might have to get up at night once or twice, to let the little guy relieve himself.
Some puppies feel very vulnerable and considering that it has been taken away from mom and the littermates that should not be surprising. Puppies need lots of attention, lots of love, and lots of sleep. When you play with your puppy do it quietly and don’t let your kids scare it with an outburst of emotions either. And always keep in mind, puppies tire easily. If you have the feeling it has enough, just leave it alone, it will most likely take a nap.
Don’t spoil your puppy rotten, and don’t let it get away with whining and crying. Make sure that your puppy learns from the earliest stages on, that good behavior will be rewarded, bad behavior not. If you change the rules later on, your puppy will be confused and reluctant to oblige. Puppies do not mean to misbehave on purpose, they don’t KNOW the difference between good and bad behavior yet.
Teach the puppy to play with its toys on its own. Especially important is to introduce your little one to chew toys. Puppies love to chew, re-direct their liking to toys immediately. I bet, if you have the second pair of 150-Dollar-Shoes ruined, you will think twice about it.
Since puppies are curious and like to chew, make your house puppy-safe. Never let a pup roam around electrical cords, they will try to bite through them and might get electrocuted. Watch stairs, puppies don’t KNOW how to climb stairs, even less to get down the stairs. And start crate training immediately.
Puppies are susceptible to many canine diseases and cannot get all their necessary vaccinations the first few weeks. Try to keep the puppy in the house or yard only; don’t let it have contact with strange dogs. After it has gotten the major vaccinations you can start introducing it to doggie-playmates by bringing it to a dog park, etc.
Your puppy needs to be socialized as soon as it is safe for it to get in contact with others. Take it with you in the car (teaching it proper behavior here too, use a carrier at first, your puppy will not sit still), let them meet a variety of people so it gets used to in case you will have visitors later on and does not feel the need to attack them to “defend” it’s owners.
Teething and Biting
Puppies are teething; therefore they need to chew. As mentioned above, never allow the puppy to chew on anything but it’s own toys. For the first few weeks pay special attention that neither you nor your kids will leave precious stuff unattended on the floor or in puppy’s reach. It will be damaged, you can be almost certain of it. If your puppy keeps chewing on furniture put some bitter-tasting paste (available at pet supply stores) at these objects. The puppy will never touch it again!
Biting is common in young puppies, especially during play and during teething. Don’t allow it, even if it might not really hurt you at the beginning. Give a strict command of “NO” if your pup bites you, it will get the message sooner or later. If it does not stop biting immediately, give it a chew toy right away.
Normally the dog’s mom teaches her puppies not to bite, you need to take over this training.
The more a dog is socialized, the less it is tempted to bite. Playing with other dogs will teach the puppy lots of what mom normally teaches it. By rolling around and playing with other dogs they learn quickly not to bite each other everywhere and anywhere. They learn to control themselves because if they are too aggressive they will see how other dogs respond to their out of control behavior. They also see how other dogs interact with each other. A puppy that is properly introduced at a young age with matching playmates is much less prone to bite later on when they are grown dogs. It will not be fearful of other dogs and see no need to bite or a need for aggression.
Start socializing your puppy as soon as possible. This is especially important for larger breed dogs since they grow fast and are already of decent size with 4 to 5 months. If you have children teach them to respect the animal. Puppies biting children happens mostly because they are afraid of them and want them to go away. Teach your children that a dog is a companion, not a toy, even if it is still very small.
Another important thing is to teach your dog/puppy respect. Never beat a dog or a puppy! When you are still in the process of housetraining and an accident happens, don’t punish it. It is most likely YOUR fault, not the puppy’s!
Always award good behavior with praise and show your love. But be firm, the little cutie might easily convince you to let him get away with too much. Be consistent and start training from an early age on. Be patient and repeat the commands, remember, it’s a puppy, a baby, things take time.
Puppy and the Leash
First and foremost, use harnesses at the beginning. Harnesses are less likely to hurt a puppy or even a grown, small dog in case it starts to pull. Proper leash training is important to make your walks together fun and pleasure and not strength training.
Keep the leash loose at all times. If your puppy forges ahead don’t pull, but turn around and change directions. The puppy finds himself all of a sudden behind you. Don’t drag your puppy towards you, watch that the leash always stays loose and turn in a second if you see the little guy taking off. Give it a little tug, but release pressure immediately.
Don’t even give him the opportunity to pull! Prevent pulling by correcting him BEFORE he can pull. Puppies are curious, don’t expect your pup to walk beside you on the leash in perfect heel position within a few days. Again, be patient at the beginning.
If your puppy is stubborn and won’t respond to your direction change, stop. Don’t pull it towards you; don’t let him pull further away. Stop and wait. It might take seconds, it might take minutes, be consistent. Your puppy will eventually get the message and come back to you. The more often you practice that “I am not moving if you are not following my command”, the easier it will be for the puppy to understand what you want him to do. Don’t use choke collars! Choke collars should only be used for adult dogs for a certain breed, if ever.
Puppies like to jump, especially when they are happy to see you coming back. Don’t allow it! It’s not only dangerous but also very annoying. A jumping dog might seriously injure children or elderly people, even if the dog only intended to be “friendly”.
Teach your puppy to stay down. When you come into your home and puppy starts jumping, get down to his level and pet him. If he keeps jumping gently put his feet back on the floor and praise him. Do not reward him for jumping all over you, and don’t give in. Do not lift him up to cuddle when he is jumping, lift him up when he is obedient and stayed on the floor. Don’t allow other people to let the puppy jump on them. Tell them it’s a no-no, and not to accept it.
Be patient, be patient, be patient!